What is postED?
PostED is a campaign run by Post Your Change that seeks change around Eating Disorders in Canada (and beyond…), both in our communities and in our policy. How do we go about doing this, and what kind of changes are we talking about?
First, we run workshops in the local community where we encourage participants to engage with the issue of Eating Disorders in a hands-on way: through creating postcards where participants can express what their unique image of a supportive community would look like. Here, people can share their own stories, or practice empathy by imagining what challenges people with Eating Disorders face, and how they would want to be supported if they had disordered eating. At the workshops, we want to spark dialogue that seeks to shift dominant stereotypes about what an Eating Disorder is “supposed” to look like. We also aim to create broader awareness of the major resource, information, and policy deficit around eating disorders in Canada today.
Second, the postcards generated at the workshops become advocacy tools that are sent to Canadian Members of Parliament to address the gaps in Canada’s current Eating Disorder policy. With constituents engaging in the issue, we hope that politicians will listen to the voices asking why we are failing to support people with Eating Disorders across Canada.
Do we need postED? Do we really need to ask for change?
In a country with universal health care, you may be wondering why we are running this campaign. So what is the current state of Eating Disorders and policy in Canada today?
To answer that, here are some of the findings from “Eating Disorders Among Women and Girls in Canada,” a report drafted by Canada’s Standing Committee on the Status of Women:
- “600,000 to 990,000 Canadians may meet the diagnostic criteria for an eating disorder, primarily anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or binge eating disorder” at any given time in Canada
- “Anorexia nervosa has the highest overall mortality rate of any mental illness, estimated at between 10% and 15% of individuals with the illness; and the mortality rate for individuals with bulimia nervosa is about 5%. Combined, these two disorders kill an estimated 1,000 to 1,500 Canadians per year, with this number likely higher as death certificates often fail to record eating disorders as the cause of death.”
In light of these troubling insights into what Eating Disorders look like in Canada today, why does the same report identify a serious lack of services, support, and awareness? Why does the National Initiative for Eating Disorders (NIED), state that there are only 20 adult intensive in-patient beds in the GTA for eating disorders? Why does Canada see stories like Sue Nelson, who started a crowdfunding campaign to fund private treatment because treatment for her daughter’s Eating Disorder was not covered and the wait list was three years long?
What kind of change would you like to see for eating disorders? What kind of change would postED like to see for eating disorders?
Post Your Change, in consultation with the National Initiative for Eating Disorders, has identified three main short-comings in Canada’s current policies that could drastically improve the support available for those with Eating Disorders in Canada. Our three goals are:
- To increase training for health care providers so that Eating Disorders are fully addressed at the earliest possible moment, rather than assuming that 3 hours of training on mental illnesses in their 5 years of curriculum is enough to cover this complex issue.
- To allocate more resources to Eating Disorders treatment in Canada. By addressing the resource deficit, we aim to end the current practice of sending people to the USA for treatment because Canada doesn’t have the capacity to fill demand for treatment.
- To create national-level information sharing on Eating Disorders in Canada; when Eating Disorders remain unmeasured, it remains a marginalized issue on the political agenda.
Why name the campaign “postED”?
This name has a couple of meanings embedded in it that encompasses its multiple goals, such as creating citizen-politician links through creative mail and moving into a new period where eating disorders are re-conceptualized as a mental disorder and supported in Canadian society. “ED” here stands for Eating Disorders, an issue which we hope to tell in this campaign not through one single story, but through multiple stories. A nod to Newo Treffies, our resident campaign namer.